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Award-winning author Coleman Andrews explores a once undiscovered gem among Europe's great culinary traditions. The cooks of Catalonia use many of the same popular ingredients found in other Mediterranean cuisines, but they combine them in fresh and unexpectedly delicious ways. Try Paella Vallenciana, Tumbet (a Majorcan vegetable casserole), Canalons (the local spin on cannelloni), or the delightful Bunyols (fried pastries), to name just a few of the savory regional dishes. By learning their culinary secrets, you'll discover a fascinating history and culture of the Catalan people.
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Colman Andrews is the editor of Saveur magazine and an internationally acclaimed authority on the food and culture of Spain's Catalonia region. A restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times, a food and travel writer, and a cookbook author, Andrews has written for many leading publications. He is the author of two cookbooks, Catalan Cuisine and Flavors of the Riviera. Colman Andrews is listed in Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America, is a James Beard Foundation Awards Judge, and the recipient of a 1998 James Beard Foundation M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Gambes amb All Confit Shrimp with Baked Garlic serves 4 This is a recipe from the La Sardinal restaurant in Banylus, just north of the Spanish border in the Roussillon. The basic idea is purely Catalan, but the recipe is a French refinement, created by Le Sardinals chef, Jean-Marie Patrouix
2 heads garlic, separated into cloves but unpeeled 16-20 very large shrimp, heads on 2 cups heavy cream Olive oil Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees; then bake the garlic cloves on a lightly oiled baking sheet or in a lightly oiled skillet for 20-30 minutes or until soft but not creamy. Cool the garlic, then slip it from its skins, setting aside as many cloves as there are shrimp. Remove the shrimp heads and mash the remaining garlic. Pour the cream into a sauce pan, add the shrimp heads and the mashed garlic, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Strain the cream and return it to the saucepan, them add salt and pepper to taste. Keep the sauce warm. Devein the shrimp, and saut them slowly in a small amount of oil until just cooked but not browned. Divide half the sauce among the centers of four warm serving plates; then arrange the shrimp extending out from the centers like the spokes of a wheel, with one whole garlic clove between every two shrimp. Drizzle the remaining sauce over the shrimp and garlic, thinning it slightly with more cream if necessary.
Panellets Catalan Marzipan Cookies Makes 24 cookies Panellets, which are traditionally served on the holiday of Tots Sants or All Saints, November 1, are perhaps the most popular single confection in Catalonia. There are countless versions of this specialty, which invariably has a marzipan or almond paste base, but the most common one is made with pine nuts. Crushed hazelnuts also work very nicely, so I have split the recipe into two parts, one for each of the two kinds of nuts. If you want to use all one variety or the other, of course, you may do so.
1/2 pound Idaho or other baking potatoes, peeled and quartered 2 1/4 cups almonds, blanched and roasted 2 cups sugar 2 egg yolks 1/4 teaspoon vanilla 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind 1/3 - 1/2 cup flour 2 egg whites, lightly beaten 1 1/2 cups pine nuts (not toasted) 1 1/2 cups hazelnuts (not toasted), coarsely crushed Butter or shortening
Boil the potatoes until soft; then drain, and put through a ricer. Preheat the oven to 475. Pulverize the almonds in a food mill, or crush them fine with a mortar and pestle. In a large bowl, mix the potatoes, almonds, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla, and lemon rind. Sprinkle 1/3 cup flour onto a pastry board, and transfer the potato mixture to it; then knead flour and potato mixture together well. (The finished dough should have the consistency of marzipan; depending upon the moisture content of the potatoes, it might be necessary to add more flour.) Shape the dough into balls 1-1 1/2 inches in diameter, flattening the bottoms slightly. Dip the balls into beaten egg whites, roll half of them in pine nuts and half in hazelnuts; then bake on a lightly buttered cookie sheet for about 20 minutes or until the nuts have turned golden-brown. Cool before serving.
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